How could a judge take away my sons?

Imagine only being allowed to see your children for 6 hours a week? The very thought is chilling. It's nowhere near enough. Anything less than every single day isn't enough.

A British woman has lost custody of her twin boys Samuel and Benjamin to ex-husband Michael Schlesinger, after an Austrian court ruled he was a 'better parent'.

Beth Alexander, 33, fell for the handsome doctor and moved to Austria to be with him, despite warnings from her parents. The marriage fell apart shortly after her sons were born. "It all seemed very romantic and a big adventure, but the marriage was terrible from the beginning. Looking back I realise that I never really knew Michael. I was so naive and I fell for him as he was very charming and seemed like a caring, trustworthy person. I was so wrong."

Ms Alexander found herself fighting for her children in a foreign country and lost them.

Only July 25, 2011, the devoted mum was feeding her then two-year-old boys dinner when their father came in and carried them away. Just 30 minutes earlier she'd found out he'd been awarded sole custody. She didn't have time to pack their bags or even say goodbye properly.

The judge, Susanne Gottlicher, awarded her no visitation rights. It was 8 weeks before she saw them again. She now sees them once a week for 6 hours and every second Sunday from 9am-5pm. They are not allowed to stay overnight nor can she see them on weekends. This, despite the fact she was their main carer for the first half of their lives.

Ms Alexander has been trying to overturn the court's decision for the past two years but just lost her latest appeal. She blames the ruling on the fact her former husband is 'well connected'.

Her ultimate wish is to win her now 4-year-old boys back and return home to the UK. She claims they are self-harming. While in her care they were assessed and found to be perfectly developed and well-cared for; now they are learning-delayed and still wearing nappies. Her ex-husband says she made them retarded.

"There seems to be no justice in this country, that they can deprive two little boys of their mother in such a barbaric way," she told the Daily Mail. "It contravenes all human rights. Sammy and Benji are two vulnerable little boys who have a right to their mother in their lives. Everybody involved in the story over here - from lawyers to journalists to social workers are shocked and outraged at this decision. Why the Austrian justice system refuses to acknowledge that simple truth is beyond me. I only hope that sanity and justice are restored soon."

Ms Schlesinger has launched an online petition to try and win her boys back. She's also posted this video explaining her story so far.

Have you survived a custody battle? 

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